Wake Forest Researchers Participate in Leading Edge Brain Implant Research

Wake Forest researchers, Sam Deadwyler, PhD, and Robert Hampson, PhD, along with Theodore Berger, PhD, from the University of Southern California, are featured in Next Big Future for their work in developing an artificial hippocampus, a brain prosthesis. The article, “Update on the leading edge of brain implant research and Kurzweil’s predictions for brain implants in twenty years,” discusses their successes in rat models and the potential implications of brain implants:

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, says that in the 2030s we will have brain implants that will help us connect to the cloud, allowing us to pull information from the internet. Information will also be able to sent up over those networks, letting us back up our own brains.

As the cloud that our brains access improves, our thinking would get better and better, Kurzweil said. So while initially we would be a “hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking”, as we moved into the 2040s, most of our thinking will be non-biological.

Kurweil is describing particular kinds of brain prosthetics. There is substantial work going on with electronics that communicates with the brain.

Artificial hippocampus used for communicating memories to the brain of rats and monkeys, human trials soon

Theodore Berger and his colleagues at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have developed a working hippocampal prosthesis that passed the live tissue test in 2004. In 2011, in collaboration with Drs. Sam A. Deadwyler and Robert E. Hampson at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, a proof-of-concept hippocampal prosthesis was successfully tested in live rats. Read the full story.